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SA fuel giant takes to rallying

2011-03-24 06:59

S2000 CONTENDER: Team Sasol's S2000 Fiestas will opten their accounts at the weekend's Rally Natal.

After decades of operating in the shadows of South African rallying, petro-chemical giant Sasol has finally revealed its team to compete from the 2011 season.

The Swartkop Air Force base just outside Pretoria played host on the evening of March 16, 2011, to the glitzy new team’s unveiling and the news that Sasol will sponsor the Ford Rally team that will participate in the 2011 SA National Rally Championship and the FIA African Rally Championship.

Alan Cameron, managing director of Sasol Oil, said: “We’re delighted to participate in the South African National Rally Championship. This year marks the 20th year whereby Sasol is the title sponsor of the Sasol Rally, which is the second leg of the African Rally championship.”

SEASONED PROS


Team Sasol will field two S2000 Ford Fiestas under the command of seasoned local rallying professionals –Jon Williams and co-driver Robin Houghton, and Mark Cronje with Cobus Vrey.

Even former World Rally ace Markko Martin was on hand to assist with the proceedings, which included the cars emerging from a cargo plane followed by an impromptu rally stage on the apron, complete with hair-raising skids and intoxicating fumes.

In announcing the new developments, Sasol general manager for sales and marketing, Vusi Cwane, professed the three-year sponsorship arrangement to be “a new era in Sasol’s long association with motorsport”.

“Spectators can expect a significant number of appearances on the podium,” Cwane promised – a sentiment that was met with wild applause.

WRC INJECTION

This is almost expected, it would seem, since Martin confessed to assisting with the development of the S2000 Fiesta.

“This Fiesta is a very nice car,” Martin said. “It’s an easy car to drive and it gives the driver confidence, which is very important in rallying.”

The S2000 Fiestas are hand-built at Ford’s M-Sport motorsport division in the United Kingdom. With a fair amount of tweaking, the Fiesta’s normally aspirated 16-valve engine produces 209kW and transfers power to the four wheels via a six-speed sequential gearbox.

The chassis, composite side panels, roll cage, suspension and braking components used are all components seen in WRC racing, Martin said, and should provide the Fiestas with a very good platform. Should you choose to have one of these as your special toy, prepare to fork out a cool R3 million...

MULTI-TASKING FORD

With this latest announcement, Ford SA now fields cars in off-road, track and rally championships.

For Sasol, though, the latest developments will provide it with a testing ground for products in some of the most demanding conditions. The Fiesta S2000s will use Sasol’s Techno Oil and Turbo Fuels Plus.

The SA National Rally Championship kicks off on March 25 and 26, 2011 with the Total Tour Rally Natal. The Sasol Rally descends on Mpumalanga from April 15 to 16, 2011.
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